Thursday, December 13, 2007

You know Vista REALLY sucks when...

... when Microsoft is giving away Visa Ultimate for free.

Seriously. They are giving it, or any of the other junk they create, Office, Works, or others.

The catch? They will monitor you using it. .. It is called the Windows Feedback Program, and is available in the US only.

They must be desperate to have someone, anyone, use Vista. They do want to see how did they miss up so badly I guess. Plus this can probably save them some money from their usability labs.

Oh well...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Attention to Details

I heard this some time ago:

In pre med school the Professor was standing upon a corpse with all the new "Doctors-to-be". He says: "There are two very important lessons I'll give you today... Lesson One: you should not be afraid or disgusted of the body, or the dead body.... “
At that time he proceeded by inserting his finger into the corpse ass hole and extracted some stuff...
Then he proceeded: "You will need to examine and operate on the body too see what went wrong… “
Then he proceeded by licking his finger, showing he is not afraid or disgusted. He told the students to do the same.
Some student left, but some inserted their finger then licked it, proudly showing how strong and ready for being doctors they are.
After all students either left or put and licked their finger he said “Lesson Two: I inserted this finger, and licked THAT finger… PAY ATTENTION!

Monday, November 12, 2007

VictorMagic - No more pixelations!

If you enlarged or zoomed too much on a photo before you will notice pixelation effect.

Because all photographs and most pictures are actually a grid of very small picture elements, or pixels, when you zoom in, you see these ugly rectangles. Just like zooming in too much on a photo on a book or newspaper reveals the dots. With a vector drawing program, like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape or others, your picture or drawing is actually made up of lines and curves. Even when you zoom in, you will not those pixels. You will still see smooth lines and curves. You will also be able to a lot more with Vectors, like smooth resize, skew, and distort.

Note however that Vectors are generally not suited for photographs. They are best suited for things like line art, signature, logo, or other such things. You can however vectorize an image if you want to make a really huge poster and don't want people getting close and seeing the pixels. They do look terribly annoying and unprofessional.

So, how do you convert from Pixels to Vectors? Many systems are available, including those from Adobe, Inkscape, and some other Open Source programs but non are as easy, or free as VictorMagic.

VictorMagic makes it very easy with a Wizard type User Interface. You upload your picture, select the kind, tune it, and then an EPS, PNG or SVG vector file.

There is no need to go through a tutorial or how to. It is dead easy, just go to the site and start playing.

Unfortunately I could not find a place to upload the test Muffins picture I posted earlier. flickr and Blogger do not allow uploading SVG pictures. But you can see samples on the VictorMagic site.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Blueberry Muffins - Take 4

Week 4 was finally a success....
Correct Muffin mix. Ingredients were all there, including an egg, which I don't remember needing. And no ants...
Here they are... And they taste grrreeaat.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Blueberry Muffins - Take 3

I love muffins. Specially when baked fresh. Betty Crocker Muffin Mix is really delicious and very easy to make. It doesn't need a whole lot of equipment to make, just a bowl and a spoon, which means it is also easy to clean up afterwards.
I used to get them from Al-Jazeerah Supermarket when I was in Bahrain, but did not see them since we moved to Jeddah, until about four weeks ago. So I took one bag and was ready for some fresh muffins for the weekend breakfast.
Week 1: I got up before my wife and told her to get ready for some good fresh chocolate chip muffins. Got the bags, heated the oven and read the instructions. You will need, water, an egg, and a stick of butter. Butter??? I don't recall the muffin mix needed any butter. Maybe I forgot, since I did not make them for a while now... But damn... we don't have any butter!!! No muffins this weekend.
Week 2: We got butter.. Same thing.... get up... get ready to bake and have fresh muffins for breakfast... Re-read the instructions... HEY!!! Those are NOT muffins!!! Those are Cookies!!! Damn it!!! The box looked exactly like the muffin box, and the Arabic label was probably confusing... Oh well.. the cookies are not as good, but okay...
Week 3: We bought another muffin box. Made sure it was Muffin this time. Same story... Get up.. get out the box.. and there are these ants on the box... hmmm.. get out the muffin mix, and those ants were making a party out of the mix!!! They made a hole in the plastic bag... Damn those ants! Just next to the muffin box was an opened bag of sugar... no ants. dates in an opened box... no ants. closed muffin mix bag... ants make a hole and get in... grrrr.. .
Week 4: Got another box, and put the box in the fridge. Hopefully I'll be able to have some fresh baked muffins for breakfast tomorrow....

Have a great weekend everybody..

Monday, November 05, 2007

One Month to WW III

Well, according to the Adnan wa Leena prologue, World War III was in 2008
...اندلعت الحرب العالمية الثالثة عام 2008
Makes you think how time flies ha? When I first saw that in the 80's, it seemed so far away. And now it is upon us.

Well, hopefully the prophecy is wrong. It has to be. I don't yet see the cool robots nor the weird looking flying machines anywhere!

And I don't know where القلعة could be. So... we might be safe for now.

Friday, October 19, 2007

rsizr - Intellegent Image Resizing

rsizr is a very innovative web-based application to intelligently resize images, without loosing much details. Instead of dupkicating or removing some columns or rows of pixels from an image, it uses a technique called Seam Carving to duplicate seams in an image that contain most details, or to remove the seams that contain least details. Even Photoshop (c) does not have that capability, yet.
Seam Carving Technique:

rsizr in action:

The user interface is very simple. Simply put, you upload your image (make sure the size is suitable for your speed, it may help to resize your image before you upload it). After that, you can mark the areas you need to protect (green), and the areas you want to remove (red) and then start your resizing. It is that easy. Give it a try, it is a lot of fun removing that person from the group photo!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Using Command Line? Try this

If you use Windows Command Line, or Unix Shell / Terminal, and miss the GUI stuff, then here is a cute little utility application you may find very nice. It's called hotwire-shell. It nicely blends some of the GUI aspects and the power of the command line.
Basically you will have a text entry with auto-complete for commands, file-names, directory-names, full history, and a top Window for the output that is nicely formatted for various outputs, and includes built in search, so you can search through the pages of output.
You can do most of this stuff with the existing Windows Shell and some grep or more but this looks nicer.
It works on Linux and Windows.

Let the Tortoise help you create a Time Machine

What the hell am I talking about? Fasting got into me? not really. I am talking about a software tool that you can use to create a "Time Machine". To the Past only.
Imagine you can store every single version of a file, and can easily get back older versions of the file. Then you can compare your current version with any old version, or compare any older two versions. This is the Time Machine Part.
The software that makes this possible is called SVN. Or Subversions. It was originally used to manage programs, and that is how I got to know about it and use it. It can be used to allow multiple developers to access the same code base, make modifications, share them, and put them back so other developers can share them. I will not dig too much into that.
The tool that makes this really easy is called TortoiseSVN. And that is the Tortoise Part.

TortoiseSVN, after being installed on Windows, adds sub menus to Windows Explored Right Clicks, and makes all of the usually difficult SVN work very simple.

To get started, you need to create a Repository. Choose a location that has enough space to hold the files you want to keep a history of, and create a Repository there. Do not do any file operations in that place. The repository is not meant for normal file browsing. It just contains the files you put with all the history in internal, SVN format.

The initial step of adding files to the repo is a bit tricky. But you only do it once, and if you follow these instructions, you should be fine:
  1. Go to the folder you need to version
  2. Right click, select TortoiseSVN | Import
  3. Select the location of the Repository you created earlier.
  4. Put a comment if you want; "initial Import" is a good choice.
  5. You will be at Version 1.
  6. Now you have your files in the SVN repository. You can delete this folder (backup, just in case).
  7. Now you need to get the same folder from SVN, delete all files in the folder, but keep the root folder.
  8. Go up to your root version folder, which is now empty, and right click, SVN Checkout.
  9. You should now have all your original files, with nice SVN icons overlayed on top. If that does not work, you missed something. You can try again or leave me a comment.
  10. This place will be used as your normal Working Folder from now on.
You then have these major operations to do with your repository.
  1. Import: Add new files from Working Folder to the repository (this can also be done by Add)
  2. Commit: is putting the files from the Working Folder into the repository. Only changed files will be written to the repository, and only the differences are written for most files.
  3. Checkout: is getting the files from the repository to a new Working Folder.
Remember that you should not use the Repository location. Perform all the above operations from your Working Folder from now on.

After this is up and running, you can do all sorts of things with SVN. You can check the differences you made, you can get any old file that you have committed to the repository, compare any two revisions, and other cool stuff for programmers.

But you do not need to be a programmer to use SVN. TortoiseSVN works with not just text files, but Word Documents, Images and other file types too.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Vista Ultimate Crap

After months and months of waiting for the Vista Ultimate Extras, finally one such Ultimate Extra appears yesterday. Windows DreamScene.
What is it? Just an animated Wallpaper. A High Definition video... It comes with 5 animated wallpapers. They do look good, but that's it, and you will probably get bored of watching it after like 7 seconds. Totally useless. And why the wallpaper? I'd rather have video as a screen saver. And I am sure it's been done by some other freeware apps already.

That is what we got the Vista Ultimate for??? That is what we paid the extra dollars for??? Oh I forgot the Ultimate has support for an additional 16 languages!!!

Of course you need to restart after you install this. WHy does it need to restart??? And it's not like it restarts quickly or anything... And if you do not want to, it will keep nagging you to restart... for WHAT??? And of course this Ultimate will take a big amount of RAM and CPU. But hey, you have a shiny new PC with Gigs RAM and the fastest Dual or Quad Core CPU already, just to get Aero eye-candy from Redmond...

I get to USE my Ubuntu for all sorts of things while it is being installed! I did not need to frigging restart my machine to install any package. Even an update of the Kernel (or OS) does not need a restart! As for eye-candy, Compiz-Fusion Kicks Ass!

And what's with the Vista new Delete Shortcut warning thingy? It warns you that you will delete the actual file, prompts you for a password and makes you think twice. What the hell???

Oh boy... I hate MS products by the minute, but sometimes I just have to use it for whatever stupid reason. I hardly do now, specially after IE4Linus working great on Ubuntu.

Long Live Linux.... Long Live Ubuntu!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fly over Bahrain, or anywhere on Earth, with Google

Google Earth 4.2 has a great little easter egg. Just press Ctrl-Alt-A (must be Capital A) and you will be presented with a screen to choose your aircraft, and location. And then you can happily cruse around or crash your plane in the ocean. It is GREAT fun.

There are already tons of info on how to use it. I will not repeat them here.

A nice quick start guide is here.

Have fun!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

On Bahrain TV Ad-Dawwar

I don't usually watch Bahrain TV. But last night while flipping channels I noticed this Bahrain TV show. I don't want to even start to critique the program. That's not the point of this entry.

Anyway, the program is Live and you call and get some questions about Bahrain or Heritage and you win some prizes.

At some point, the two presenters Abu Abdulla and Zahra Arafat where talking about the different prizes they have, some cash, some "instant" and two Grand prizes to be drawn on Eid. The two grand prizes are a Lexus and a Hummer. Just then I am 90% sure I heard Abu Abdulla talking to Zahra and saying (maybe just kidding) "... yeah, so you get the Lexus and I get the Hummer".. Immediately Zahra replied "Noooooo!".

I will not be surprised if that was the case, but I could be wrong. I wasn't really paying that much attention prior to that.

Even if it was a joke, it is not something to joke about. Maybe it is just me, but I do take these things seriously, and to me that is fraud.

Does that ring a bill with some old BTV prize show where the presenters "won" BD6000 in the 1990's?

As BuZain and Ammar think it's only a joke, I edited the post to reflect that.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Arabic on SE M600i

I love my M600i. The keyboard is great, and the phone is generally very good and nice interface. The only issue I had is that it did not come with Arabic Fonts. So I initially was forwarding the Arabic SMS I get to my old K600 to read them. Stupid, I know. I saw some Arabic enabling software, but was to thinking it was too costly. I did not find anything usable, until now. It's free too!
This comes from here.
You must have your phone in File Transfer Mode. It will not work in Phone Mode.
  1. Create a \Resource\Fonts folder in your M2 card
  2. Copy the Tahooma.ttf from Windows\Fonts (you may use other font if you like. I find this one very readable on M600i the screen. Verdana did not work for me).
  3. Make 4 copies of the file(s), and name them:
  • Sans-Serif_Latin-Regular.TTF
  • Sans-Serif_Latin-Italic.TTF
  • Sans-Serif_Latin-BoldItalic.TTF
  • Sans-Serif_Latin-Bold.TTF

The restart your Phone. You will notice the fonts have changed in all the displays.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fine use for the One-Laptop-Per-Child

The One Laptop Per Child, OLPC, was a project started at MIT some time ago by Nicholas Negroponte. Its main goal was to create a durable laptop that can be used in harsh environments by children. It was supposed to cost about US $100.

From their website
Our goal: To provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves.

It took sometime for the vision to become a reality, and just recently some OLPC's have reached children from around the world. Third World.

The latest use for some of these laptops? According to a story from

The One Laptop Per Child initiative has reached new heights by delivering internet porn to third world children.

According to a report Thursday from the official News Agency of Nigeria, laptops in a primary school in Abuja "have gone awry as the pupils freely browse adult sites with explicit sexual materials."

It’s heart warming to know that the efforts of the well meaning folks behind the OLPC project are delivering real results on the ground; providing the same opportunities for teenage boys to access internet porn no matter how impoverished they are or where they live.

The party however will be short lived; a representative of the One Laptop Per Child group was reported saying that the OLPC computers would now be fitted with porn filters.

I really don't know whether to laugh or cry. But as is usual with many things in life, even the best intentions can have some very bad consequences.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Goodbye Windows Start Menu, Welcome Launchy

I hate the Windows XP Start Menu. It tries to be too smart, and never really works. I usually switch back to Classic Menu on any machine I start using. I even hate the Vista Start Menu more so. Heck I hardly use Vista anymore!
Anyway, I'm a keyboard guy, I love VIM, and I find myself pressing Windows Key + R to get a Run command and then typing notepad or calc to start some applications. I would rather not use the mouse whenever possible.
So if you are remotely like me and would like to start your applications and even documents with the keyboard, then you really should give Launchy a try.

In a nutshell, after you install Launchy, you see nothing. It is running in the background waiting for you to press its hotkey, the ALT-SPACE is the default. Then you can type a program name or a document name and it will start it for you. You can even let it look for MP3 files, for other documents, or perform a Google Search all from that simple bare-bones interface.
To get menus of all of its options and customize it, just right-click the Launchy window, around it's border or anywhere except where you'll enter text.

Don't wait, go and get it now!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

ATM and Card Fraud

You probably heard about the Bulgarians that copied ATM and Credit Cards in Bahrain some time ago. You may also have heard about some people who said they had all of their money vanish from their accounts, and saw some transactions on their bank statements that they did not make. Or all sorts of "fraud"... What are they talking about? What's happening?
The current cards use a magnetic strip to store your account number, name and other data. It does not store the PIN. This data is very easily read and then copied. This is called "skimming". The card data is copied by attaching some device to an ATM, or at Point of Sale devices. When the card is skimmed, many copies can be made and used not just in Bahrain, but around the world. Don't ask me how, but it is dead easy, and will cost no more than BD10.
Skimming cards at ATMs in Bahrain was, and still is, a very serious threat, and banks recently used some quick and dirty solutions on their ATMs to prevent skimming devices from being attached to their ATMs. You probably noticed some weird device on most ATMs in Bahrain attached to the ATM just where you enter your card. But that is not the solution. Cards can be skimmed outside Bahrain. And skimmed cards can be used inside Bahrain.
Q. So what is the solution?
A. New Chip, Smart Cards, or EMV cards, which are now becoming normal in Europe are impossible to copy. These cards store more data in a very secure way. The cards also provide for other services.
Q. So why are banks in Bahrain or the GCC not using these Smart Cards yet?
A. Cost. It costs more to the bank to implement a solution that uses Smart Cards. And of course banks would rather bury their heads in the sand and deny any problems or fraud rather than invest in this costly technology.
But now that fraud is becoming a real major issue that starts to bite from banks profits, and because of pressure from international organizations, banks are rushing to use and issue EMV cards. It will take time before we see them in wide use in Bahrain.
Q. Until I get to use one of these Smart Cards, how can I protect myself from fraud or my card being skimmed?
A. Use your card in trusted merchants and report any suspicious activity or device you see at a Point of Sale or any weird device attached to an ATM to the concerned Bank.
Try not to have all your eggs in one basket. If you can, do not put all your money in one account and link it to the card. If that card is skimmed, all the money in the account can be stolen via your skimmed card before you even notice.
Check your account regularly and report any transactions you did not make. The bank "should" refund you and create you a new card. But don't assume they will do it easily.
If you suspect your card is skimmed, report it as Stolen immediately.
Try to hide your PIN when you enter it at an ATM or POS machine. Your card may not be usable without a PIN. When the cards are skimmed, there is either a small camera or somebody that tries to see the PIN you entered. Make it difficult for them to see your PIN.

Happy and Safe Banking!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

And now the 500 Server Errors

As if the many disconnects we get here in KSA is not enough, now many pages return "500 Server Error" and I need to refresh and refresh to display the page. I initially thought the problem was with the site I visted, but no, it;s some proxy somewhere between me and the internet. Sometimes half the page loads, and sometimes only the text loads with no images...

And because ADSL is sold by STC and we got our ISP from another company, you can imagine what will happen if you call either one with a problem! They each blame the other....

Grrrrr.. I hate to say it, but Batelco was better! Service with Batelco was generally reliable, and not half the internet was blocked! It's so annoying when browsing a Google Blogger page, and just seeing half the images stored on Blogger. And it's not because they have any porn or obscene images, it's because for some reason, the URL contains some sequence of characters that the Great Proxy did not like... Take for example this page, by my friend about Jelly Fish, I can only see the first image, the rest are blocked...

Damn it, I'm getting these errors while trying to post this!!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Freedom of Speech vs. Respect

I saw Remember the Titans few days ago, and loved it. One of the best lines in the movie was when Denzel Washington was talking to the two groups of his team. The team at that time was not getting along and extremely racist black and white groups. He told them:
You don't have to love each other, but you have to respect each other.
And just as we do not need to agree with each other on many things, we need to respect each others' opinions and differences.

Another thing I feel directly related to this is freedom of speech. Everyone has the right to express their point of view. We may not agree with that opinion, but we should be willing to at least listen.

However there is a thin line between freedom of expression and showing disrespect. The problem is that this line is not concrete, and what may be freedom of expression to some, may be regarded as disrespect and wrong doing to others.

My own "line" is much closer to freedom of expression. But for many people, their line is much closer to disrespect and they see anything and anybody that disagrees with them as completely wrong.

Do you see any line? Do you have your own limits?

Monday, July 02, 2007

That tune is in my head!

I'm trying to get rid of this tune that's been playing and playing in my head for some time now. It's the very old tune used as theme from old Bahraini program Cinema Al-Video. Remember that program? By director Thawwadi?

Does anybody know what is it called? Composer?

Well, THERE! Maybe now I can get rid of it, or if I'm lucky, I can find it somewhere :-)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Google AdSense

Unless you have something like Firefox Adblock extension, you may have noticed the Ads By Google column in my blog. Actually I have Adblock, and I thought my AdSense account did not work!

So anyway, I'm not really trying to make any money from this blog. But I am just curious how the whole AdSense concept actually works. It's actually pretty cool when in my Weddings Post you see some Wedding Planning Sites in the Ads By Google column.

If you have a Google Blogger account, it is as simple as one two three and you'll have Google Ads on your blog. You can even make some money!

Of course you are free to click away on my Ads and get me some points ;-)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Seven Days Weddings

Ok, so some people do want to make the best wedding and spend all their just started life savings. And they want to start their life together with big a loan just to have a wedding. Their call, it's their wedding and their life after all. I do not agree on it, but hey, just my opinion.
But having seven days for a wedding? C'mon!!! Day for henna, for Jalwa, for whatever, and then two days for dinner, and some others for i don't know what?
Hey, it is your wedding, but did you think of all the people who have to attend? And especially women who now have to make like 7 different new dresses costing that much, and they may not wear them again. And they have to attend all those seven days and seven nights? So who takes care of kids, and husbands? And of course everything else will be on hold for seven days or more.

Anyway, if you are thinking of a 3 or 7 days wedding, think of the people who have to attend. Do them, and yourself a favor and spend a nice honeymoon with your wife, and ease it on the credit card.

And my best wishes to those who got married, and those who will.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Green Screen vs Mouse

You know those very old computer terminals with just green text? The IBM and mainframe Terminals? Or at least the emulators that access some of these mainframes. These are now almost only seen in airline reservation systems.
Why are they being replaced with "good looking" interfaces, lots of graphics, colors and many fonts, drop down lists and whatever controls. WHY WHY WHY???
An operator, or a clerk does not need all that fancy GUI and using the mouse, which by the way gets lost below all the paperwork on their tiny desk, to click here and there to enter one simple account number. Nor do they need to scroll through a list of 541 cities and countries! They do not have to select from a list of all possible 24132 flight numbers! And generally the most common item in the list is close to the end, and users have to scroll through the whole list.
It is much quicker for the operator or clerk to just use the keypad to enter everything, press a couple of function keys here and there, and you are done. No hunting for mouse, and trying to point it to that teenie meenie check box or selecting an incorrect item from a drop down list that takes 7 seconds to scroll to the item mostly commonly needed. With all this GUI, one transaction will now take the clerk 2 minutes to enter, and will take 7 minutes for the PC to bring all that information and save it. And look at the bandwidth usage skyrocketing, and the cost of getting all those new PCs to support the huge applications, and just see how much more powerful infrastructure is needed...

WHY??? WHY??? Just so that a manager somewhere can "demonstrate" to some other managers that "We are now in a new era. We have the latest user-friendly, and colorful interfaces for our clerks that will allow us to provide better services to our clients"

Yeah right... When I go to book a ticket, or complete a transaction at a bank, or anywhere else, i don't give a swat about how pretty the clerk's new, shiny, colorful, state-of-the-art user interface is, and I don't even think the clerk cares. All I care about is that the transaction takes the minimum time needed, and it completes successfully... I think clerks will want that too. I've seen theme in many places complaining about the "new system" and struggling with pointing the mouse at that list and that check box!

Don't get me wrong. I see no harm in having an interface that does include menus, colors, graphics and drop down list, but it has to be designed properly.

Here are my personal guidelines for Form Design:

1) Allow shortcut keys for all fields, or at least arrange the fields by tab order.
2) If a drop down list contains many items, allow the users to quickly select the item using the keyboard. It is not that hard at all.
3) Use default values.
4) Try the form yourself. If it takes you more than two mouse moves, something is wrong. All data must be entered using the keyboard.
5) TEACH the users how to use the forms and the shortcuts. Not all users, specially those who worked with green screens for years, know that you can TAB to the next field instead of using the mouse. Or that you can use the ALT key to move to a field, or that you can type the first letters to select from a list, or that a CTRL-P will print and CTRL-S will save or send.
6) Function Keys are still there! Use them for common tasks. Not that hard to do. But please use them consistently.
7) Don't give the user too much information. If a field is not absolutely necessary, don't prompt for it.
8) Remember that users are generally lazy and want to finish things quickly. So:
9) Many Critical error messages with a Yes/No prompt will not even be read! The default will be used.
10) If a field is not validated, you WILL end up with lots of garbage in your database. If a field is not mandatory, you WILL get many empty fields in your database.
11) Some of these guidelines may be conflicting, so choose the best. but
12) TEST TEST TEST with real users and perform at least minimal usability tests.

Just remember that some of these forms you are designing will be presented to some people 8 hours a day. Make their life easy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

IE For Linux

Okay so I really hate Vista, and I think Microsoft products are crap. But there are still a few sites out there that think everybody else in the world is running Windoze. Take for example GMArabia who insist on using ActiveX and Microsoft DOM components. Their main page does not even load on anything but a Windoze PC.
Anyway, so there is Wine and you can run lots of Windows progs on it, but it was nit the easiest program to install and configure, and I did have some issues with it some time ago. So I did not bother installing it again and switched to Vista for some things.
Well, not any more. Thanks to IE4Linux.
With IE4Linux, all what you will need are just a few lines in the shell, and you will have IE 5.5, IE 6.0, and IE 5.0 if you need, with Flash, and with desktop shortcuts too. It does everything for you.
So now, I really have no reason at all to run Vista. Well, maybe just for some games ;-)

Are you using Wine with other programs?

iPod users, meet floola

I love my iPod video. I have tons of songs, some pictures, and many files backed up. Another great feature is that I can use the iPod as a portable image tank to store my pictures from my Nikon D50 directly without a PC. An average picture is about 3Mb, so 40-50Gb should be enough for a few days photo shoot. But What I do not like is that i had to use iTunes to manage my music collection. And with iTunes, you can't just sync on any PC. I had some luck with some older programs that were able to "publish" my music collection from iPod to any PC, but the program could not add MP3's to my iPod.

I did not add much MP3's for some time, until I got some new CD's.

Then I came across floola. A great, Windows, Linux and Mac iTunes full replacement where you can add and fully manage your iPod music collection. It is still in Beta, but seems to be stable enough.

Are you doing anything else for iPod sync? Or are you using other Mp3 players?

Friday, June 01, 2007

It's about the Director - Eragon

I missed Eragon on the big screen, and just bought the Special Edition DVD yesterday. My wife read the first two books and loved them. I myself did not read the book, but had an idea on some of the ideas behind it. Lord of the Rings and Star Wars heavily influenced the writer. Both stories and movies are one of my favorites.
So, I just had to watch it. I knew the reviews were not that good. And I knew there is no way it would even come close to LOTR. So I did not have that much high expectations.
We saw the movie, and from the very first five minutes we started complaining. The movie is sooo awfully bad and very very disappointing.
The main character doesn't know how to act. The only okayish acting was by John Malkovich and it was only for 23 seconds. You feel major parts of the story missing for no apparent reason. And then when we watched the deleted scenes, I realized that some very important characters of the story were completely taken out. The director was literally yawning when taking about some parts of the movie. Some cool ideas were not done just because of time or budget constraints, and the director says that on many occasions.
The only acceptable parts were some scenes with Saphira the dragon. And that is only because CG came a long way from the times of Jurassic Park and Toy Story, and mostly that CG was done by ILM, who have very high standards.

I would fully blame this disaster of a movie on the director. And maybe just to a very a small extent on the Studio for choosing the director and what apparently was a lot of cost trimmings.

Shame on you Fox for generating such an insulting movie to the Inheritance Trilogy fans.

I just feel sorry for Christopher Paolini. He writes this very good very popular trilogy, and gets a slap on the face with having it rendered in this movie...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ubuntu on Dell

This is a bit too late for me. I already have Ubuntu on my Dell Inspiron Laptop. However this is a good step nonetheless.

My as well as my wife's experience with Vista is awful. The latest bad Vista news has been that the HP All-In-One scanner, copier, printer just refuses to work, or the printer completely disappearing from the PC 's Setup Printers. We had to completely re-install the printer.
The same printer and scanner works without a hitch in Ubuntu. No need for any special installations either. And it is a Network Connection too.
Plus Vista is slow and bloated. Actually Ubuntu takes shorter time fully booting that Vista takes time resuming from Hibernation!

The only reason I occasionally need to switch to Vista is because some web-sites are still IE only, and do not display at all in Firefox. I'll check Opera on Ubuntu.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Short Circuit

In case you do not know, here is the Wikipedia explanation:
A short circuit is an accidental low-resistance connection between two nodes of an electrical circuit that are meant to be at different voltages.
This is similar to a secret shortcut that was never meant to be used, but it exists, and therefore will be used instead of the long, usually intended and designed path that was designed.

So, why am I bringing this up? I've been noticing that short circuits do not just happen for electrons and electrical currents. People behave like electrical current and they look for the "path of least resistance" in many occasions. You'll probably notice this in many situations.

Why do people ask someone (A) for something instead of asking somebody else (B), who may be more suitable for the job? Because asking (A) is easier.

Why do some people double park and block others instead of looking for that other park, just a few meters away? It's nearer to the door, and a shorter path.

Why do many people not even bother reading the error message and call you, or even claim the system is totally useless when something wrong happens? Or they may simply click Cancel / Ok, or any random button instead of reading the message and doing what it tells them?

You get the picture...

So, beware of short circuits, and keep in mind that most people, like electrical current will look for a short circuit to make things easy for them.

Monday, April 02, 2007

April Fools top ten

Well' I haven't heard much of these for some time, but I remember having fun in some of the old days with surprise exams, and things like that.

One of the best I heard was about the Pearl roundabout when I was in college. One civil engineer student told another civil engineer student that the pearl in the pearl roundabout fell due to the very strong wind. The guy actually went to see it!

From television revealing that spaghetti grows on trees to advertisements for the left-handed burger, the tradition of April Fool's Day stories in the media has a weird and wonderful history.

Here are 10 of the top April Fool's Day pranks ever pulled off, as judged by the San Diego-based Museum of Hoaxes for their notoriety, absurdity, and number of people duped.

-- In 1957, a BBC television show announced that thanks to a mild winter and the virtual elimination of the spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. Footage of Swiss farmers pulling strands of spaghetti from trees prompted a barrage of calls from people wanting to know how to grow their own spaghetti at home.

-- In 1985, Sports Illustrated magazine published a story that a rookie baseball pitcher who could reportedly throw a ball at 270 kilometers per hour (168 miles per hour) was set to join the New York Mets. Finch was said to have mastered his skill -- pitching significantly faster than anyone else has ever managed -- in a Tibetan monastery. Mets fans' celebrations were short-lived.

-- Sweden in 1962 had only one television channel, which broadcast in black and white. The station's technical expert appeared on the news to announce that thanks to a newly developed technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to receive color pictures by pulling a nylon stocking over the screen. In fact, they had to wait until 1970.

-- In 1996, American fast-food chain Taco Bell announced that it had bought Philadelphia's Liberty Bell, a historic symbol of American independence, from the federal government and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell.

Outraged citizens called to express their anger before Taco Bell revealed the hoax. Then-White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale and said the Lincoln Memorial in Washington had also been sold and was to be renamed the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial after the automotive giant.

-- In 1977, British newspaper The Guardian published a seven-page supplement for the 10th anniversary of San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semicolon-shaped islands. A series of articles described the geography and culture of the two main islands, named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse.

-- In 1992, US National Public Radio announced that Richard Nixon was running for president again. His new campaign slogan was, "I didn't do anything wrong, and I won't do it again." They even had clips of Nixon announcing his candidacy. Listeners flooded the show with calls expressing their outrage. Nixon's voice actually turned out to be that of impersonator Rich Little.

-- In 1998, a newsletter titled New Mexicans for Science and Reason carried an article that the state of Alabama had voted to change the value of pi from 3.14159 to the "Biblical value" of 3.0.

-- Burger King, another American fast-food chain, published a full-page advertisement in USA Today in 1998 announcing the introduction of the "Left-Handed Whopper," specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new burger included the same ingredients as the original, but the condiments were rotated 180 degrees. The chain said it received thousands of requests for the new burger, as well as orders for the original "right-handed" version.

-- Discover Magazine announced in 1995 that a highly respected biologist, Aprile Pazzo (Italian for April Fool), had discovered a new species in Antarctica: the hotheaded naked ice borer. The creatures were described as having bony plates on their heads that became burning hot, allowing the animals to bore through ice at high speed -- a technique they used to hunt penguins.

-- Noted British astronomer Patrick Moore announced on the radio in 1976 that at 9:47 am, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event, in which Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, would cause a gravitational alignment that would reduce the Earth's gravity. Moore told listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment of the planetary alignment, they would experience a floating sensation. Hundreds of people called in to report feeling the sensation.

What about you? Anything funny?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dear Mr President

This is a good one. May be too old for some though. Ever since leaving my old place, I didn't hear much jokes..

كان الرئيس في زيارة لمدرسة ثانوية وفي نهاية الزيارة طلب منه الناظر أن يتكرم بعمل لقاء مفتوح مع الطلبه على غرار مع يحدث مع شباب الجامعات . ووافق الرئيس .. وبدأ اللقاء

قام أحد الطلاب وقال:

سيادة الرئيس .. ابنكم الطالب محمود عبدالغفار .. عندي ثلاثة أسئلة أرجو أن يتسع صدر سعادتكم للإجابة عليها

الريس قال له : اتفضل.

سيدي الرئيس..

سؤالي الأول: لماذا تأثر القطاع الخاص بالحالة الإقتصادية تأثراً سلبياً بينما شركات ابنكم الله يحفظه تزداد أرباحها في نفس الظروف؟

سؤالي الثاني: لماذا تصرون على الاحتفاظ بالوزير فلان وأنتم تعلمون جيداً بأنه ليس الشخص المناسب لتولي الوزارة؟؟

سؤالي الثالث: هل حقاً سيتولى ابنكم رئاسة الدولة بعد عمركم المديد أن شاء الله؟

الريس قال له: اتفضل .. شكراً.

وفي اللحظه دي رن جرس الفسحه فالريس بقلبه الكبير قال لهم: اطلعوا دلوقتي اقضوا فسحتكم ونكمل بعد الفسحه إن شاء الله.

بعد الفسحه طالب تاني قام وقف وقال: سيدي الرئيس .. ابنكم الطالب سعيد متولي .. عندي خمسة أسئلة أرجو أن يتسع صدر سعادتكم للإجابة عليها.
الريس قال له: اتفضل.

سيدي الرئيس..

سؤالي الأول: لماذا تأثر القطاع الخاص بالحالة الإقتصادية تأثراً سلبياً بينما شركات ابنكم الله يحفظه تزداد أرباحها في نفس الظروف؟

سؤالي الثاني: لماذا تصرون على الإحتفاظ بالوزير فلان وأنتم تعلمون جيداً بأنه ليس الشخص المناسب لتولي الوزاره؟

سؤالي الثالث: هل حقاً سيتولى ابنكم رئاسة الدولة بعد عمركم المديد إن شاء الله؟

سؤالي الرابع: لماذا دق جرس الفسحه قبل موعدها بساعة ونصف؟
سؤالي الخامس: أين زميلنا محمود عبدالغفار ؟؟؟؟؟!!!!

Just Google it!